I’ve been reading article after article from parents, teachers, business people, and “experts” about the struggle of finding balance in life. About balancing family, work, fun, and all the stuff that life throws at us. Conversation after conversation, tip after tip, criticism after criticism all in the hunt for the elusive beast that is balance.
Stop hunting. Balance doesn’t exist. It can’t.
Whoa!! Gasp. I know it’s the wrong, un-popular thing to say. Let me say it again….
Balance doesn’t exist.
Who thought up this word and this goal? Where did it originate? Certainly not a parent. Or someone simply trying to make a living. How about a college student? Nope, pretty sure they didn’t make up balance. I know, I know…a small business owner! Ha! We can all giggle at that one.
Unless you lead a perfect life (if you think you do, you are delusional) you are devoting more time to a single area of your life than another. Usually out of necessity. True, choice is in there. But, it is a rare person that can choose a life completely void of dedication to a particular area, be it work, school, parenting, a relationship, etc. Balance, in the way it is commonly used, is not a reality we can achieve.
Perhaps you are a single mom and you are struggling to work and take care of your children. Adding the guilt of not “balancing” work and parenting doesn’t help you one bit. You can’t do a damn thing about your need to work and have your children in daycare. Does that make you less of a parent…no. I say it makes you MORE of a parent. Should you try to find time with you kids? Absolutely. Yet, I dare say that your children will grow up with a great respect for you and your hard work. And that is something to be proud of. Your life is not balanced, but it can still be good.
Maybe you are a college student with a part-time job to try to pay bills. What is this “balance” they speak of? For you, it’s simply balancing the need to keep your grades up with your need to pay for college. Forget eating healthy, going home for holidays, staying up to date on the world around you, having a hobby, reading for FUN??…you are lucky if you remember to do those on a GOOD day. Balance is a ridiculous idea, at least in the context in which the world tends to use it.
A working father putting in more than 60 hours a week can’t possibly “balance” his world. Just look at the hours that he has left for family, sleeping, mowing the lawn, friends, voting, and the other five million things that make up a life. He simply doesn’t have the time in the day to have “balance”. Sure, he can cut back on hours (maybe?). But then that throws another part of his life out of “balance”. He now watches the kids more often after school instead of working to save money. Which means he doesn’t have the income to care for the house, car, college, etc.. He can make different choices about priorities, but his life isn’t going to be completely in “balance”.
For me, the better question is how to lead a life that is fulfilling and happy. Balance has little to do with it. Every single day we are focusing on something different, a new goal, relationship, or struggle. It often receives a majority of our attention. There is nothing wrong with that. The question should be whether we end that day feeling fulfilled and happy. Are those we love fulfilled and happy? Yes? Well done. Was it a balanced day? Who cares!
I say we throw out the idea of balance.
Instead, let’s focus on our lives as a whole, our relationships as a whole, and our jobs as a whole. If we are fulfilled and our loved ones are fulfilled, if we are happy and our loved ones are happy, then we are on the right track. There will always be room for improvement and change. But let’s take one more pressure off our shoulders. The pressure of achieving balance.